Sunday, September 19, 2010

Two Things I Learned About A Crucifix of Jesus

I learned two things about the Crucifix last week that I probably should have know, but didn't.

The first, I kinda knew, but never took the time to learn the detail.  I always knew the sign posted above Jesus read INRI and stood for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.  But I never really understood  how those letters stood for that phrase.  Turns out there was no "J" in Latin, and the letter "I" was often used in its place.  So the phrase in Latin is Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm.  

The second, embarrassingly enough, I never even thought about.  In some crucifixes and paintings, Jesus' head is tilted straight down on the crucifix.  In most, however, it is tilted down (or up) but slightly to the right.  Why the difference?

A person that was crucified would have likely died from asphyxiation, and thus, their head would have slumped straight down.  So, crucifixes that show Jesus' head in that pose are attempting to be more realistic in their depiction.

Those that show His head tilted slightly down (or up) and to the right are taking some artistic liberties.  The right hand, in Christian faith, is the hand of blessing.  Since Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself for our sins, He, in turn, gave us the ultimate blessing.   This is why His head faces right in some crucifixes - to show that His death is a blessing for all of us.

Since my "lesson" last week, I did a little more research and found two other explanations for the right-leaning head tilt.  One stated that Jesus was facing the good thief, whom He saved before dying.  The other said it was to reinforce that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.

I've looked at crucifixes of our Savior thousands of times.  Who knew I still had so much to learn about them?

God Bless.


Shirley said...

Interesting; I checked my various crucifixes, and all are either down or to the right, except one Rosary in which His head is tilted left.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Thank you Michael for your research and for sharing this with us. I knew the first point you make but not the second about the head tilting down/right.

God bless you.

Daily Grace said...

Thanks for the lesson Michael. I didn't know about the meaning of the tilting of Christ's head on the cross. I will always notice it now though and will pass the lesson on to others.

God bless!

Anne said...

Amazing! Thanks for the information-like you, I had never known any of this!

christopher said...

Sent you an email, sir! God bless!

Molly Melnick said...

Our faithnis so deep...I never would have thought that the tilt of His head had any significance. This was amazing. Where did you find this information from?

Mary N. said...

Thanks, Michael! This was very interesting! I never thought about the direction Jesus' head was tilted in until now. I checked my Crucifix and a few of my rosary beads and all were tilted to the right.

Anonymous said...

This was a very interesting and informative post. Thank you so much for sharing. I looked at some of the art I have in my house. On my Crucifix and replica of a painting by Grinwald the head it tilted to the right. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Jesus was looking down to the right as His mother was standing there.

She is the last person He saw.

The Blessing and the wound with His precious blood and water coming from it were on His right side.

For Him to look away from them would be symbolic, don't you agree?